The Legend of Bruce Lee

The Legend of Bruce Lee

DVD Rating: *

Reviewed by: Robert Munro

Despite his death almost 40 years ago – at the untimely age of 32 – Bruce Lee remains an enigmatic and inspirational figure to many. His martial arts classics Way Of The Dragon and Enter The Dragon continue to set the standard for all which aim to follow in the Chinese- American’s footsteps. The release of The Legend Of Bruce Lee, however, does not have the cross-over appeal of Lee’s (and of the genre more widely) films. It is a made-for- television soap opera which probably won’t even be appreciated by die hard enthusiasts.

The film is the result of an edited version of the Chinese television series (itself comprising of 50, 45-minute episodes). As a result, and despite being a massive 3 hours long, the film is a rather shambolic mess. Beginning at a key point in Lee’s (Danny Chan) career – as he sets up his Kung-Fu school in Seattle – the film attempts to chronicle the many trials and tribulations Lee overcame on his rise to movie superstardom. This includes flashbacks to his childhood in China, and early training under the tutelage of Yip Man - himself the subject of Kar-wai Wong’s next film The Grandmasters.

This is a film without a cinematic bone in its flabby body. It seems purely to exist as a crude and lazy attempt to exploit the legendary actor’s popularity in China. While containing English subtitles, the film also appears to have either been dubbed, or else it has some serious sound-synching issues. You’d need a native Mandarin speaker to find out which is true. There are beyond tired martial arts clichés in every single scene. Excessive use of slow- mo, anonymous glam rock for the fight scenes, then quiet and reflective piano melodies for the (apparently) reflective bits.

The production values on the whole are an embarrassment to the legacy of Lee. Added to this the film’s attempts to wring emotion from the material are cringe-worthy to the point of eye-averting. In one final scene at the end of the film, Lee beats up yet another opponent leaving him bloodied and humbled on the floor. Lee’s wife Linda Lee Caldwell (Michelle Lang) very admirably offers the man a hanky as the music swells uproariously and their respective faces fill the screen in close-up.

The only moments which could euphemistically be described as pleasant in the film, are to be gained from the fight-scenes themselves in which Danny Chan performs admirably under the imposing shadow of Lee. But even these scenes are hamstrung by the aforementioned reliance on slow-motion editing and the offensively cheesy sound effects which accompany.

Thankfully there are no extras.

Reviewed on: 13 Jan 2012
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The story of the legendary martial arts icon Bruce Lee following him from Hong Kong to America and back again, leading up to his tragic death at the age of 32.
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Product Code: REVB 2844

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.78:1

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: None

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